Ten years. Ten years already! Only ten years. Anyway, just as then, on the very first day, so now, we have no idea what the future holds. Not even very shortly. And the scale of that something.
This is how we can describe the main feelings, emotions and thoughts that today’s commemoration of the tenth anniversary of Euromaidan, the beginning of the “revolution of dignity”, evokes in Ukraine and in the part of the world that supports it.
Like all great phenomena, the historical process, of which we are all now at an unknown stage, started with a small thing – a few sentences on Facebook.
When the then President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, under the control and ultimate oppression of the Kremlin, nevertheless refused to sign an association and free trade agreement with the European Union, there was a huge wave of public indignation.
The first to act was Mustafa Najem, a Ukrainian journalist of Afghan origin, who wrote on Facebook, in Russian, as befits the Russian ‘Ukronazi’ already seen everywhere at the time: ‘OK, now seriously. Well, who is ready to go out on the Maidan before midnight today? The only comment under this post is: “I am ready”. As soon as more than a thousand gather, we will organise”.
More than a thousand have gathered. Organised, came out at half past eleven in the evening, in the centre of Maidan. And it started.
At first there were hundreds, mostly young people, and it didn’t look like anything serious was going to happen. They were immediately brutally beaten and dispersed by government “officials” and thugs. Then thousands and tens of thousands came. They were beaten and chased away too. They gave back and then hundreds of thousands began to gather. They began to kill them. Then they started killing them too, until, finally, Mr Yanukovych fled to Russia and the whole government collapsed.
It looked as if the state itself was going to collapse. However, while it was trying to stay on its feet and, in any case, to survive, Russia occupied Crimea. And it started a war in the Donbass, where it is still at its epicentre today.
What are the main things that are important, not only in the context of a decade in retrospect and not only in the context of Ukraine, that we should remember on this occasion?
Firstly, the struggle for national liberation, based on a traditional ethno-linguistic Ukrainian identity and a corresponding historical narrative, was only one of the elements, motives and drivers of the Maidan Revolution. Equally, if not more important, was the protest against injustice, the insolence and arbitrariness of the authorities, after the latter had crossed the final threshold. It was also a social protest against one’s own thieves being controlled by foreign thieves.
And this kind of protest was also supported by a “folk” and common human identity, which also enabled common human empathy. This is why, from the very first days on the Maidan, you could meet not only Ukrainians of different ethnic origins, but also people from almost every corner of the world. And also from Russia.
It was the Maidan that fused into one nuclear explosive mix the traditional ethnic-linguistic-historical Ukrainian identity and the one defined by the USA, the world’s leading political and civic nation, in the first words of its constitution: “We, the people”.
This fusion, which has sustained and continues to sustain the whole of Ukraine, was also the biggest surprise for Russia, which, first of all in the Donbass, had expected to be confronted only by the country’s Ukrainian-speaking ‘westerners’.
Secondly, however, the Maidan would not have lasted so long, been so strong and finally won if it had been driven forward only by the ordinary people of the US Constitution.
The joining of a section of the ruling, political-oligarchic elite to the Maidan, the “street” with its economic and political power, is an essential prerequisite for the victory of any “coloured revolution”.
V. Yanukovych has not managed to consolidate the regime under and around him like in Russia or Belarus. If he had, we would almost certainly have seen a different picture and a different outcome.
Thirdly, there are no measures that the Russian dictatorship has not taken and no red or other coloured lines that it has not crossed in its desperation to destroy the Maidan. Or rather, that part of Ukrainian society which is shouldering the entire – above all, armed – resistance.
This is the basic logic and trajectory by which the Kremlin has acted from the very beginning, and which, in fact, has long since made it a hostage to its own nature.
It cannot act in any other way, it cannot have any other objective than to seek to destroy the country desperately, now the whole country, which has become the Maidan.
No dictatorship of the type and level of degradation of Russia can leave ‘unpunished’ – or, more correctly, alive – those who it and its subordinates believe must lie beneath them, but who nevertheless dared to resist and challenge the ‘Aryan race’ and its leader.
This has to do with the durability and existence of the dictatorship itself: if those who dare to resist and defy it in any way, shape or form – let alone in armed struggle – remain untortured, unraped and otherwise unkilled, then the power and strength of the dictatorship and its leader are false.
Maidan, Ukraine or Taiwan, for example, are to be subjugated-destroyed; they are only a “question” which can only have a “final solution”.
Therefore, the more and the more those who are to be victims resist, the more means and efforts must be devoted to their destruction. This is the essential and only motive.
It is precisely this logic that, when Ukraine did not surrender and capitulate to the ‘Minsk talks’, a full-scale Russian invasion became a matter of time.
It is this logic of dictatorship that determines the dynamics of this entire historical process, which we have seen from the very beginning and will undoubtedly continue to see: as soon as it seems that this time, the final frontier of violence, aggression, horror and destruction has been reached, a new one is just around the bend.
Fourthly, there is another side to this ever-increasing aggression: the potential for resistance on the part of the Ukrainians. It is itself of such unpredictable size that everyone – not only the Russians, but also a large part of the West – counts every time. With the amount of aggression that Ukraine has already absorbed, that country seems long overdue, and yet it is not only holding out, but even trying to counter-attack.
Sometimes even the Ukrainians themselves are surprised by this. However, on that occasion, they usually state that this is a sign of a Ukrainian political nation that is finally not only born, but is standing up in full stature. The birth of this nation is the main and no longer reversible result of the process that began on the Maidan and is still ongoing.
Looking to the future, therefore, we can only hope that this law will continue to repeat itself as Russia continues to escalate.
Increasingly, however, we are faced with a reality which, however, prompts us to ask: how long will this potential be sufficient at all?
It so happens that now, a decade on from the start of this historical process, we find ourselves at a new existential crossroads, on the verge of a new stage and a turning point.
It is marked by the fact that the war itself is entering the phase of a war of total decimation and destruction. This is the primary focus of Russia, which, as a country, an economy and a state, has finally put itself on the rails of permanent war, first with Ukraine and then with the whole of the West.
The first of Russia’s main objectives in the path of the destruction of Ukraine is to physically destroy and grind to a pulp on the front line all that part of Ukrainian society that is willing and able to resist with a weapon in its hand. It is also to regain at least part of the initiative on the front and to start creeping forward again, albeit only slightly.
The very top of the Ukrainian military leadership – not to mention the people on the front line – are already stating publicly that it is the lack of manpower that is an even greater problem for the Ukrainian armed forces than the lack of weapons. The Maidan, which gave birth to the Ukrainian political nation, is becoming increasingly crowded.
The second existential threat is that Western military and economic support, without which Ukraine could not survive as an army and a state, will be increasingly disrupted by the West’s own desire to finally ‘somehow end’ this whole story.
The question that must now be asked in all its urgency is whether at least some of the political elites and societies in the West do not want that ‘end’ at the expense of Ukraine itself.
Could it be that Ukraine will be pushed into some kind of ‘negotiation’ or, more correctly, capitulation, not by direct and straightforward pressure on its government, but simply by limiting or completely cutting off military and economic aid, so that the country simply has no other option?
However, it is clear that, in such a case, Russia itself would certainly not negotiate anything, but would move on with tenfold force, with the ultimate goal of the complete destruction and even occupation of the country.
There is no doubt that those who would push Ukraine to surrender in such brutal ways realise that they are pushing it towards a death sentence.
This means that they believe that Ukraine can be sacrificed in exchange for an ‘end’ and, if not a holy one, at least peace.
Ukraine’s main argument for securing and maintaining international support has always been: ‘we defend you with our flesh and blood, you buy your security with your money and your weapons, without spilling a single drop of your blood, and if we fall, you will be the next ones, just automatically’.
Some Western societies and politicians have supported and continue to support the Ukrainian struggle precisely for such ‘pragmatic’, ‘selfish’ reasons. Some of it is not because of that, but because of simple human empathy, compassion and a sense of solidarity and injustice in the face of such a crime and tragedy. Some of it is both.
And some have always rejected, and continue to reject, this reasoning, simply by stating that, on the one hand, the world is already engaged in a series of ‘local’ wars waged by various non-democratic regimes, and, on the other hand, the threat of a direct and open full-scale confrontation between Russia and NATO, whether it is the destruction of Ukraine or not, will neither increase nor diminish significantly and fatally.
Yes, one can accept to some extent that the disintegration and collapse of Ukraine does not automatically mean that Russia will immediately launch the same full-scale invasion of Poland or the Baltic States. Simply because it will not have anyone to do it with.
However, once Maidan falls, the logic and dynamics that the Russian regime has always been hostage to will not disappear.
It will now have no choice but to take revenge on all those who have helped Ukraine’s struggle in the slightest and to ‘punish’ them all.
The regime’s leaders and their propaganda have been openly talking about this for a long time, and are signalling that the need for this revenge may be ripe now. This revenge could, after all, also take the form of so-called “hybrid” attacks and acts of terrorism.
So, in both cases – the real victory of Ukraine, the only guarantee of which is the collapse of the Russian dictatorship itself, and the disintegration of Ukraine – our region, Europe, and the world as a whole, will continue to move along a path of ever greater global change and upheaval. A path of irreversible change.
The fact that the story we have been on for a decade is now again approaching a certain tipping point, and that it is now necessary to decide in which direction it will go, is also shown by the behaviour of the top leaders of Ukraine itself. It is increasingly desperate, distracted and searching for a way out.
This is also betrayed by the internal strife and political disagreements that are surfacing more and more often. The most dangerous is between the highest political and military leaderships. It seems that the public statement by the army commander himself, Valery Zaluzhno, that the war is stalled and has finally entered the positional phase of the war of attrition was not in agreement with the President and his team, and that the latter are going to punish the commander.
This desperation, and a dangerous symptomatology in general, is also shown by the public speeches of President Volodymyr Zelensky himself about a new ‘Maidan’ being organised against him by Russia, to overthrow and even assassinate him. Understand that all those who are now criticising the President or his entourage are possible conscious and unconscious accomplices in the enemy’s conspiracy.
The President himself also repeats the same ‘after us, you’ argument with a strange energy and frequency, as if he feels that it no longer works as it used to. All in all, it is clear that both Ukraine itself and its staunchest allies, of which there are only a handful, need a new communication campaign, primarily aimed at the publics of the main Western countries. After all, at the beginning of the invasion, it was precisely the publics that caused Western politicians to turn towards unconditional support for Ukraine.
The other factor was the part of society that moved from the Maidan to the trenches and to their immediate rear. As has already been said, this, although it is the most physically destructive and the one that is becoming smaller and smaller, is a historical fact that has already taken place – the only one that has really taken place definitively in this unfinished story. At the same time, it is the main guarantee that even at the darkest crossroads of an epic historical tragedy, Ukraine still has a chance. A chance to survive.
The most important chance, which was grabbed first by those who responded to a few sentences on Facebook. And went out into the dark November night.